Gunbarrel Center has adequate parking

NOTE: I posted the following on nextdoor.com a year-and-a-half ago, but just added an update today, which you can see at the end.

It seems that from posts I’ve read here and from talking to friends that it is widely believed that there is inadequate parking for Gunbarrel Center residents, so much so that I’ve heard a few friends say that it won’t be possible to shop at the Gunbarrel King Soopers. I think the people who say this are just assuming it’s true, because they have a negative view of this apartment development. While there may be several reasons to be negative, inadequate parking shouldn’t be one of them.

The bedroom breakdown for the 251 units in Gunbarrel Center is:

Jr 1br/1ba, ~540 ft2 = 9 total
1br/1ba, ~785 ft2 = 118 total
2br/2ba, ~1,150 ft2 = 113 total
3br, 2ba, ~1,320 ft2 = 11 total

Onsite car parking is:

Required Commercial Stalls – 187
Required Residential Stalls – 318
TOTAL REQUIRED – 505
TOTAL TO BE DELIVERED = 511

This includes internal on-street parking.

It looks like there are 1.27 spaces per unit.

Let’s say that 75% of 2+ bedroom units have two cars. Say 30% of 1 bedroom units have two cars. The rest of the 2+ and 1 bedroom units have 1 car. Total would be:

124*2*.75 + 124*.25 + 118*2*.3 + 118*.7 + 9 = 380 cars

This leaves 62 cars without spaces to be parked on surrounding streets, the most obvious one of which is Gunpark Dr.

Of course, my figures of 75% and 30% are just guesses. You can plug in your own guesses, and get anything from more than enough onsite parking to not nearly enough. For example, if only 50% of the 2+ bedroom units have 2 cars and only 20% of the 1 bedroom units, there are only 19 extra cars. If all of the 251 units have 2 cars, there’s a need for 502 spaces, which leaves 184 extra cars to be parked offsite.

From a Google map, I measured Gunpark Dr. between Spine and Lookout as 2000 feet, with parking on both sides, for a total of 4000 feet. There are 10 driveways and one street. Assuming a loss of 40 feet each, that leaves 3600 feet for parking. Assuming 18 feet per car, there’s room for 200 cars. So, even if one assumes 2 cars for each of Gunbarrel Center’s 251 units, all of them can be parked onsite or on Gunpark Dr. Absent Gunbarrel Center, there is essentially no overnight parking on Gunpark Dr. now, as the adjoining buildings are all commercial.

While I suppose one might object to the use of Gunpark Dr. for parking by Gunbarrel Center residents, this doesn’t seem fair to me. It’s a public street, and even residents of single-family homes with driveways and garages often use the public streets for parking. Most public streets in Gunbarrel are designed for that, especially Gunpark Dr., which, for some reason, is unusually wide.

UPDATE: Yesterday I left the house about 6:45AM to go to Longmont, but took a few minutes to swing by Gunpark Dr. and the King Soopers parking lot. I had heard from a developer friend who knows Gunbarrel better than anyone that the apartments were almost fully rented, so this was a good time to see what the parking situation was. I think the offices are mostly vacant, and I know the retail is, but neither of those need any parking at 7AM on a Sunday.

I would say Gunpark Dr. had about 30 or 40 cars, mostly clustered next to the Gunbarrel Center apartments, as you would expect. There was still room for another 150 or so cars. The King Soopers lot was nearly empty; it had maybe 25 cars. Since the store was open, those were mostly customers and employees.

So, I can say with some certainty that between my theoretical analysis and my actual observation early on a Sunday, Gunbarrel Center created no parking problem and no problem finding a parking space to shop at King Soopers.

Review: Beyond the Mountain Brewing

Beyond the Mountain is Gunbarrel’s newest brewery, the sixth, joining Asher, Avery, Finkel & Garf, Gunbarrel, and Vindication. It’s in a new building, across from where the Leanin’ Tree museum was, and next to Medtronic:

This place is gorgeous, easily the best-looking brewery in Gunbarrel, nicer even than Avery:

That’s Miriam, Tap Room Manager, in the photo. The brewery is behind the glass windows, not hidden away, as it is in some Gunbarrel breweries, such as Asher and Vindication. Beyond doesn’t have nearly the room that Gunbarrel Brewery has, so they can’t hold big events, like the recent comic-book show that Gunbarrel had, but the space is much more attractive than Gunbarrel’s vast factory.

The brewery “grew out of a mutual love of artisanal beer and live music between two lifelong friends,” so music is big here, or will be. Not only are some of the beers brewed in conjunction with local bands (no idea what that means), but there’s a big music stage:

They don’t have any live bands scheduled yet, but at the end of the month they’re going to be showing a Phish stream on that screen that rolls down. (If you’re a Phish fan you no doubt know what that means. I think Gunbarrel had one a few months ago.)

They’ve only been open about three days, so I forgive them for not having my favorite pretzels, or any stouts or porters. Miriam tells me the pretzels will be coming. Maybe some stronger beers, too.

The beer I had, an amber, was excellent. Here’s the opening list:

Note the reasonable prices for a pint.

It’s early yet, so we don’t know exactly where Beyond is going to go, but judging by the looks of the place, they’re off to a great start. And if you’re west of 63rd St., you no longer have to drive an extra two minutes to get to Asher or Avery.

Beyond is only open five days a week, and maybe that will change at some point, too:

HOA Board Meeting Minutes Finally Posted

Two-and-a-half weeks after they were supposed to be posted. The page has HOA Annual and Board minutes under the same heading, but at least the minutes are finally posted.

As far as the minutes themselves go:

  • Most of the meeting was held under executive session (I was asked to leave), contrary to Colorado law, and
  • My own participation was incorrectly documented. The minutes say that I asked to be present (it was a public meeting; no need to ask), that I was there to discuss a particular set of issues (not true; I never gave a reason why I was there), and that I threatened to work against Bylaw changes (I only said I would be against them if they made changes to the voting percentages).

Still, it’s a small victory, as the Board has never before announced a meeting nor published minutes. Let’s hope they continue doing this.

Also, since the Board doesn’t know how to take and post minutes promptly, let me suggest a way:

  1. Take the minutes on a laptop into a Google doc. (Any middle-school kid knows how to do this.)
  2. Set the doc for public sharing.
  3. Post the link to the draft minutes on the website. Or, if that’s too hard, send an email to Fruition telling them to do it, since we pay them up to $1000 per year for website maintenance.

Gunbarrel Green HOA Board Breaks the Law to Maintain Secrecy

At the October Gunbarrel Green HOA meeting, I accused the Board of operating in secret, pointing out that they never announce publicly when and where Board meetings are held, and never publish minutes of their meetings. HOA President Janet Reutcke sharply disagreed with my accusation. She gave no particulars, but I guess she meant that if anyone could discover when and where a Board meeting was held, they would be allowed into the room. Or maybe she didn’t even think about what I had said, but just resented the criticism. If so, she’s going to like this article a lot less.

At that HOA meeting, to ensure that future Board meetings would be public, I got a motion passed. According to the draft minutes of the HOA meeting, which were posted on the HOA website:

Marc Rochkind made a motion for the following
All board meeting minutes be posted to the website.
Draft minutes should be posted 3 days after the meeting
Approved minutes as they are available.
Notice of board meetings should be posted 1 week in advance.
Motion seconded.
Motion passed.

Accordingly, notice was posted in a paper newsletter that I received around Nov. 1, and I emailed back that I would attend the meeting. In a subsequent email I was told that it would be at Janet’s house on Nov. 15 at 7 PM, and I attended the meeting. The newsletter had invited anyone to email Gina Hyatt (a former Board member who’s still very active in HOA affairs) if they wanted to add items to the agenda, and I did so.

I was the only non-Board member in attendance on the 15th, other than Gina. It was mentioned that two people wanted to attend, but had not registered, so did not come. Janet called them, but they did not attend. (Perhaps they had other plans, since the meeting was about to start.) I think that requiring registration to attend a public meeting is possibly illegal, but that’s a minor matter compared to the more egregious illegalities that took place.

Anyway, the meeting began with a discussion of my added items, for about an hour. Then I was told that the Board would go into executive session, and I had to leave. There can be no dispute about this, because the minutes say:

Marc was told that the meeting would be moving into executive session and he left about 8 p.m.

Note that not only was I told that the executive session would begin, but that I was explicitly told to leave.

Here’s where the HOA Board broke the law, and possibly lied, as well. Let’s work it out: Either the Board did or did not enter executive session.

If the Board did not enter executive session, I was lied to in order to get me to leave the meeting, even though both the HOA Bylaws and State law require that HOA Board meetings be public.

If the Board did enter executive session, which is more likely, what followed was illegal, according to the minutes, which document that the following took place after I left the meeting:

  • Discussion and action about several covenant violations.
  • Treasurer’s report discussed and approved.
  • Architectural Committee report.
  • Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation Review Committee report.
  • Community Projects Committee Report.
  • Approval of up to $800 for entry arch decoration, and discussion of additional lighting.
  • Discussion of Boulder Rural Fire and Rescue issues.

The minutes are here, on my private website. They have not been posted to the HOA website in draft or final form, as required by the motion passed at the Oct. HOA meeting, but that’s a topic for another article.

There isn’t anything in the Bylaws or Articles of Incorporation that allows the Board to go into executive session, so I don’t know if that’s even allowed, but, assuming it is, State law restricts what can be discussed. Here’s a summary from State HOA website:

Colorado law requires all board meetings to be open to the members of the association, unless the board goes into an executive session. Colorado law (C.R.S. 38-33.3-308(4)) allows the executive board or any committee thereof, to go into executive or closed session and can prohibit owner attendance for the following limited matters:

  • Matters pertaining to employees of the association or the managing agent’s contract or involving the employment, promotion, discipline, or dismissal of an officer, agent, or employee of the association;
  • Consultation with legal counsel concerning disputes that are the subject of pending or imminent court proceedings or matters that are privileged or confidential between attorney and client;
  • Investigative proceedings concerning possible or actual criminal misconduct;
  • Matters subject to specific constitutional, statutory, or judicially imposed requirements protecting particular proceedings or matters from public disclosure;
  • Any matter the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy.
  • Review of or discussion relating to any written or oral communication from legal counsel.

Prior to the time the members of the executive board or any committee thereof convene in executive session, the chair of the body shall announce the general matter of discussion as enumerated in the statute.

Contrary to law, the chair did not “announce the general matter of discussion as enumerated in the statute.” She only said that the Board would enter executive session.

The only one of these “limited matters” that applied to the Nov. 15 “executive session” was “[a]ny matter the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy,” and that would apply to the covenant violations. Indeed, in a Nov. 13 email to me from Janet, she said this:

Just wanted to let you know that the meeting this Wednesday will be held at my house at …, at 7pm. I have put you first on the agenda and we will try to give you ample time for your questions and comments, etc. We will need to move into executive session afterwards, as we have quite a few private matters involving various residents. No secrets, just issues that require us protecting their privacy.

So, the Board broke the law by discussing the treasurer’s report, the architectural committee report, the Bylaws and Articles, the community projects, the arch decoration and lighting, and the fire department during executive session.

Or, as I said, the Board both broke the law and lied when it told me to leave what the law requires to be a public meeting.

Why is the Board so secretive about such innocuous things (other than the covenant violations)? Beats me. You’d think they would want people to know what they do, almost all of which is pretty good. Here’s a recent post at nextdoor.com, a public community forum:

Ruth Osborn, Boulder Country Club 24 Nov
I don’t think $100 [for HOA dues] is reasonable. They use most of that money for litigation against our neighbors for not following their rules.

Wow, if Ms. Osborn only knew that the Board does so much more than that!

Back to the main story here: When I complained to Janet that the Board had illegally gone into executive session, she said this in a Dec. 2 email to me:

I can honestly say that I had no idea you wanted to stay longer. When I told you ahead of the meeting that we would need to break into executive session, you didn’t mention anything about wanting to stay.

Janet seems to think, or is claiming she thinks, that I wanted to attend the executive session. But, whether I did or didn’t is irrelevant, because what followed was either not an executive session or was an illegal executive session. She also is trying to blame what happened on me, because I didn’t insist on staying. Actually, I was thinking of objecting to being told to leave, but this was her home, and I don’t think I can legally refuse to leave someone’s home once asked. That’s probably trespassing or some other crime. Also, I was trying to be cooperative. So Janet’s email to me is bullshit. (The Board needs to stop meeting in members’ homes.)

I don’t think the Board was knowingly breaking the law. Let me be very precise about what I think they were doing:

  • They wanted me out of the meeting. I know this because I was asked to leave.
  • They don’t know what an executive session is; they think they can have one whenever they want to be secretive about what they’re doing.

This is another case of our HOA Board, and specifically our HOA President, Janet Ruetcke, not knowing how to run the HOA. I don’t know how long Janet has been President, but it’s been at least since 2012, so let’s say 5 years. In that 5 years, here’s a list of some things she doesn’t know:

  • That the Bylaws call for nomination for election to the Board to be made by a nominating committee. There has never been one.
  • That the vote for the Board be by secret written ballot. (Done for the first time at the October meeting, at my insistence.)
  • That Board members serve for three-year terms. Up until last October, there was a voice vote at every meeting to re-elect the entire Board. But, when I placed my name in nomination, thinking I might replace one of the five members of the Board, Janet suddenly announced that she was the only one up for election. This had never happened before.
  • That according the Articles of Incorporation, which are very clear about this, increasing dues requires 60% of the entire HOA membership. (Janet and other Board members think they can vote at a meeting, which was done in 2016, because the Bylaws are unclear. But they Bylaws say that the Articles are in control. They don’t know this. I wrote about this recently, and all the details are there.)
  • That all Board meetings are to be public.
  • That at the Oct. HOA meeting we required that draft Board minutes be posted within 3 days of the meeting.

In her 5 years on the Board, Janet has:

  • never taken the time to study the Bylaws, the Articles of Incorporation, and the relevant Sate law, or
  • has been unable to remember what she learned, or
  • is deliberately breaking the law.

It has to be one of those three; no other possibilities.

Should Janet Reutcke resign? I think she should, but I’m sure she won’t, and  most HOA members probably don’t want her to. But maybe many of us would ask her to at least commit (in writing, along with an apology) to following the Bylaws, the Articles, and State law in the future. And, she should not use whatever loopholes she can discover to continue to operate in secret. Everything the Board does should be open, including any emails exchanged between Board members that aren’t about the limited matters that are allowed by law for executive sessions.

Meanwhile, my advice:

  • Assume that all communication from the Board is manipulative and possibly dishonest, and
  • Never vote by proxy for anything, such as Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation,  Covenant, or dues/fees/assessments changes.

We have a secretive, dishonest, possibly unethical HOA Board, and we need to be very careful they don’t do us serious harm.

Gunbarrel’s Six Breweries

I’ve now reviewed all five six:

Asher
Avery
Beyond the Mountain
Finkel & Garf
Gunbarrel
Vindication

They all know how to brew great beers, but there are differences:

  • Avery is the only one with a full restaurant
  • Vindication has $1.50 off on Mondays
  • Gunbarrel and Asher have food trucks (call to make sure one is there)
  • Finkel & Garf is very close to Gunbarrel shopping and restaurants
  • Asher is organic
  • Avery and Gunbarrel are the most adventurous with exotic brews
  • Gunbarrel has more activities than all the others combined.
  • Beyond the Mountain is the newest and has the most attractive tap room.

Review: Finkel & Garf Brewing

Finkel & Garf is a father (Eric GarFINKEL) and son (Dan GARFinkel) operation, the closest of Gunbarrel’s breweries to downtown (i.e., Lookout and Spine). It’s just a block north, halfway between Lookout and Aperitivo:

Like the other industrial-space breweries, it’s not much to look at on the outside, lacking Asher’s tree:

But the inside is very nice:

The snack shelves and lights look good. Wood chairs would be better, and maybe they’ll upgrade at some point. The plastic is comfortable, however, and the colors speak to Finkel & Garf’s playful theme.

All pints at Finkel & Garf are $5, except maybe the High ABV Imperial Red (confusing sign):

Finkel & Garf is the only Gunbarrel brewery other than Avery to sell cans, which are the best way to package a beer other than returnable bottles:

(Photo from their website; not from me.)

You can buy Finkel & Garf cans in stores, such as Hazel, or from the tap room.

Their Oatmeal Milk Stout won a gold at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival, and it’s pretty good, as are their other brews.

There are lots of games at Finkel & Garf; notice the legos on the tables in the photo above. Even their logo features toys:

If I have a complaint, it’s that they don’t have On Tap Kitchen Salt & Vinegar pretzels, just stale Synder’s. Lots of other packaged snacks, too, none of which I’ve tried. On the other hand, the Snyder’s were only $1, and the On Tap are $3, 3/5 of what the pint costs. Maybe it’s me–I like pretzels with my beer. (I paid $7 for a baked pretzel at Avery, and it was worth the $7.)

To summarize: Finkel & Garf gets top marks for its beer, its attractive tap room, and its convenient location.

 

 

Review: Avery Brewing

Avery is much older and much bigger than the other breweries in Gunbarrel, by a lot. They started in 1993 in Boulder, and moved to Gunbarrel in 2015.

(Photo from their website; not from me.)

Avery’s huge building is just north of Asher, in the Twin Lakes Tech Park and it’s very close to West Twin Lake:

Avery runs a full restaurant in their tap room, along with about 30 beers, half of which are tap-room-only. According to Yelp, the food is pretty good, but my daughter and I only had the giant pretzel. It was excellent, so maybe you can extrapolate from that?

Avery beers are pretty well-known, and you’ve probably had them many times, since they’re widely distributed in cans and bottles. In the tap room they’re fresher. I had an Old Jubilation Ale, which was just great.

Prices are high in the tap room. You can get a $6 pint (no pints at $5), but some of the exotic beers are a lot more, such as $9 for 5 oz. The food is up there, too. Nothing like a pint for $3.50 at Vindication on Mondays.

Here are a couple of photos of the tap room:

If you get a beer at the bar, you can walk around on a catwalk above the brewing and canning/bottling equipment:

And there are some interesting places to sit:

When the Avery tap room first opened, it was impossible to get in. But now things have calmed down a lot, and you can make a reservation on their web site.

In summary: Avery has some interesting beers in their tap room, they’re expensive, and it’s somewhat of a hassle to park and walk into the big building and up the stairs. For me, it’s not a place I’d just drop into–more of a destination. Example: Yesterday I was driving on 71st St., and decided to just swing by Vindication. I don’t see myself “swinging by” Avery. Which is not to say that I’m not thrilled that they’re here in Gunbarrel!

Voting for an Increase in Gunbarrel Green HOA Dues

The Gunbarrel Green HOA can’t seem to arrive at a straight answer about what vote is required to raise the annual dues. For example, there’s this from the 2016 Annual Meeting

Motion to increase dues to $100/yr – Reese Killeen
Seconded by Joe DiRago
Motion Passed
Discussion:
Al Coelho – formally protested the vote. Does not believe a vote to increase the dues follows the Articles of Incorporation.

There’s no indication of whether the vote was a simple majority or 60%, and I don’t remember the details, so I guess from the minutes we can assume it was a majority of those voting.

At the 2017 meeting, the subject came up again. From the draft minutes:

Jonathan Mills also provided a statement on the Dues were raised at last year’s annual meeting based on Article V, Section 2 that states “Such dues or assessments may be set by the Board of Directors at the annual meeting of the members of this Association or at any other meeting, provided notice as above-defined has been given to Association members.” He acknowledged there is ambiguity in the bylaws about how dues can be modified and that this is also an area that the Board would like to clarify in the future.

Mills is referring to the Bylaws, not the Articles of Incorporation. What’s strange about Mills’s statement is that at the 2016 meeting the increase was not set by the Board, but by a vote of the members. I suppose one might say that the vote was merely an informal approval of the Board’s action, and that the Board “set” the dues implicitly by taking a vote. As we shall see, this confusion is interesting but irrelevant.

We also have  Article IV of the Bylaws, which conflicts with Article V:

The Board of Directors of the Association shall have the power to set dues and special assessments.  The dues shall initially be $25.00 per year; approval of sixty percent (60%) of the membership shall be required to change the dues or levy an assessment.

So, there’s no question that the Bylaws are ambiguous about what vote is needed to change the dues. My interpretation is that the Board makes a proposal (“set”), but 60% of the membership is required to for “approval” of the Board’s proposal. But I understand if someone wants to argue that the Bylaws are unclear. Nowhere in the Bylaws does it say that the dues can be increased by a vote at the Annual Meeting. It’s either the Board alone or 60% of the membership.

The Articles of Incorporation also has something to say about the dues, first in Article III, “Purpose and Powers of the Association.” Paragraph C reads:

fix, levy, collect and enforce payment by any lawful means dues and assessments as approved by the majority of the members; pay all expenses incident to the conduct of the business of the association, including all licenses, taxes or governmental charges levied or imposed against the association

Which seems to suggest that a majority of members can “fix” dues, although this is a general statement about the purpose and powers of the association, not specific details about voting. Nonetheless, the language is there.

Much more explicit is Article X of the Articles of Incorporation, “Prior Approvals:”

The following actions will require the prior written approval of sixty percent (60%) of members:

E. approve of increased dues or levy assessment.

So, according to the Articles of Incorporation, maybe changing the dues takes a majority vote of the members, or maybe 60%, but I think it’s pretty clear that the latter is the intent.

As I said, the Bylaws are a lot less clear than are the Articles of Incorporation, and there’s a conflict between those two documents. However, this possibility is addressed by the Bylaws, in Article XIV, Section 2:

In the case of any conflict between the Articles of Incorporation and these Bylaws, the Articles shall control

Therefore, we can completely ignore what the Bylaws say or don’t say about voting for changes in the dues, and go with the Articles of Incorporation alone.  I think it’s 60% of the members, but even if one thinks its only a majority, there’s no way to interpret the Articles of Incorporation as saying that the Board can change the dues on its own or that it can be done at an Annual Meeting, unless the number of voters in favor is also a majority of the members. The website claims 315 members, so a majority would be 158, and there definitely weren’t that many voters present at the 2016 meeting. The super majority, 60%, would be 189. There were maybe 50 or 60 people in the room, and many of those were couples with only one vote between them.

In short, the 2016 vote was invalid, and HOA dues were in fact not raised to $100. It’s likely that the vote some years ago to raise them to $60 was also invalid, but maybe one could argue that too much time has passed to argue about that. What the HOA Board should do immediately is invalidate the 2016 vote, put the dues back at $60, and refund any overpayments.

 

The Horrible Gunbarrel Green Website and a Conflict-of-Interest

About a year ago the Gunbarrel Greeen HOA launched a new website, our third. Here’s the top part of the home page:

We have a useless welcome message, a photo of the Fatirons, and four facts inspired by a MasterCard commercial. If these facts were more interesting, they might deserve such a prominent positioning. Perhaps:

  • Formation in 1870
  • 31,500 houses
  • 700 miles from Pearl St.
  • Prideless

Unfortunately, the true facts are not only uninteresting, but seem to suggest that Gunbarrel has nothing of itself to offer (“7 miles to Pearl St.”). A photo of the Fatirons is as clichéd as you can get, and has nothing to do with Gunbarrel.

But the worst part is that the entire “above-the-fold” part of the web page, the most important part, is wasted. It’s importance is nicely explained in an article from the Nielsen Norman Group titled The Fold Manifesto: Why the Page Fold Still Matters:

The fold matters because what appears at the top of your page matters. Users do scroll, but only if what’s above the fold is promising enough. What is visible on the page without requiring any action is what encourages us to scroll.The fold matters because what appears at the top of your page matters. Users do scroll, but only if what’s above the fold is promising enough. What is visible on the page without requiring any action is what encourages us to scroll.

If the reader is somehow motivated enough to scroll down, here’s what’s next:

Apparently, photos of the board are the next most important thing, but, even though Sandi and Bev have been on the Board for many months, nobody was able to get any photos of them.

Next comes something that might actually be useful, some contact info:

On a smaller screen, such as a phone, things are much worse. Here are the first three screens:

So, you have to scroll past three screens to get to something interesting, and that’s only the contact information. With such an unpromising top part, not many will keep scrolling.

Suppose you want to see the Covenants, perhaps the most important item on the entire website. That takes three layers of menus:

Here’s a home page I put together in 10 minutes, which I would say is 100 times more useful that the actual site:

Starting out with a photo is pretty common on home pages, and is OK provided it’s not too high and has something to do with the web site. Here’s what I had on the predecessor site, the one that the current site replaced a year ago:

I took the photos and assembled the triptych, so I’m biased, but I think it’s pretty good.

There’s a lot more wrong with the site besides what I’ve said so far. A month ago, it was full of links that went nowhere and boilerplate left over from some earlier mock-up, such as this:

If the print is too small for you to read, here it is:

“Sed ut perspiciatis, unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam eaque ipsa, quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt, explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem.”

I wrote a long letter to the Board, and some of what I complained about has been fixed. But why did I even have to do this? Why wasn’t the site checked out before going live?

The overall design failure remains. To summarize it:

  • Boring material that never changes doesn’t suggest that the reader should put more effort into browsing deeper.
  • The Board seems to be enamored with their own photos, which appear not only on the home page, but also on the special Board of Directors page. Yet, they couldn’t even take time to snap photos of the newer members.
  • It’s ridiculously awkward to get to the only thing useful on the site, which are the documents. Many readers looking for, say, the Covenants will give up in frustration.

Well, how did this travesty come about? Here’s some history:

Originally, when I moved to Gunbarrel Green, HOA President Chuck Simmons had a rough website that looked amateurish, but at least had the relevant documents. Chuck gave the job of maintaining the site to me. Janet Ruetcke, Chuck’s successor, asked me if I could come up with a way so she and other Board members could easily add text without requiring the services of a web developer. I changed the site over to Drupal, a content-management technology that is specifically designed to allow different members of an organization to edit different parts of the site. I also moved the hosting to save the HOA hundreds of dollars a year.

That was fine until sometime in 2016 when new Board member Jonathan Mills took on the job of replacing the site. In his words, at the 2017 Board meeting, this was because the old site was “out of date.” (I now suspect that what he meant was “no spiffy graphics.”)

Who did the site? A commercial web development company called Fuition. I didn’t know that at the time; I thought Jonathan was doing the work himself for free, which is how Chuck and I worked. I learned at the October 2017 HOA meeting that Fuition was paid $5,000 for the work.

Why was Fruition picked? Well, I have no idea, since I wasn’t at that Board meeting and haven’t seen the minutes. But, get this: Jonathan works at Fruition!

So, what do we know? This much:

  • The web site fails at its most important purpose, which is to provide for efficient and up-to-date communication between the HOA and its members.
  • The HOA paid $5,000 for the site, and looks forward to as much as $1,000 per year for maintenance.
  • The money went to a Board member’s company. I haven’t yet been able to find out whether there was a written contract. I asked the Board about this, but they didn’t know.

At the last HOA meeting, the Board said that the $5,000 was a bargain, and that typically such web sites cost $15,000. In other words, a 67% discount. But, not really. You can get a shitty site for a lot less than $5,000!

Ordinarily, if the HOA contracts with an outside firm and gets poor results, they can go back to that firm and ask for fixes. Examples might be landscaping that fails to meet the specifications, or a “Covenanted Community” sign (see photo above) that has cracked. But, if the HOA were to do that in this case, Jonathan Mills would  be representing the Board and the contractor both.

There’s  a conflict-of-interest: Is Jonathan suppose to represent the Board’s interests (getting the fixes and design improvements), or Fruition’s (defending their work and minimizing the costs to make the corrections)? Board member or loyal employee?

I’ve communicated all of the above to the Board, the design failure, the bugs, and the conflict-of-interest problem. So far, not much has happened, except that, as I said, some of the bugs have been fixed. The Board is considering the conflict-of-interest problem, and two members seemed to understand it, but I’m not sure if anything will happen. As for the main problem, the complete ineffectiveness of the site, I very much doubt that anything will be done.

So, this embarrassing site is all we’re going to have for our $5,000.

I hope that the Board learns a lesson from this fiasco and takes their fiduciary responsibilities more seriously the next time they start spending our money. As the old joke goes, the site isn’t a complete waste; it can always serve as a bad example.


Featured Comments

Petur Williams says:
23-Nov-2017 at 12:39 pm
If the story about a five thousand dollar homeowners’ association website that takes a thousand dollars a year actually gets worse with the addition of someone on the board who benefits from creating and maintaining it, this appears to be preposterous mismanagement and misuse of funds. If this is all true, I think the Board and the Homeowners’ Association are owed an apology and a refund. There are many almost no cost website builders out there for the asking.

Jamie Stroud says:
23-Nov-2017 at 8:15 pm
I guess this goes in line with their culture. I was asked to redesign the logo about two years back from the ugly musket. I gave the board a few ideas, in which I was going to refine one and create a professional look for our HOA. Instead they just took my rough and started using is without my knowledge. None of my phone calls or emails were returned. Since I was not able to finish it I have been conflicted over whether to mention it considering the cheap quality and not wanting my named linked to the work. But after reading Marc’s note I realize I am not the only one dealing with poor management.